Thursday, April 26

What's for Dinner?: Mac 'N Cheese

When I was growing up, my mom's homemade macaroni and cheese was very close to the top on my list of favorite meals. Mom rotated it through on a semi-regular basis, but I also requested it for birthday dinners and other special occasions. Like most other families in the 80s, regular 'ole Kraft macaroni and cheese was also in our pantry, but it doesn't hold a candle to Mom's mac 'n cheese. A mix of creamy, melty, and stringy cheese perfectly melted in a white sauce and topped with a brown, crusty top = pure cheesy perfection.

I've carried the tradition on into my own family, only now I make it with gluten-free pasta and gluten-free flour. It's my go-to meal for comfort food, celebration food, and even hospitality food -- I often make this when I provide meals for new moms at our church. Nothing says "happy baby, don't start your diet yet" like homemade mac 'n cheese. :-) Most people feel very pampered when I tell them what I'm bringing, and that makes me happy!

Fast forward to last week. My husband is into culinary creativity, and he's always coming up with tasty combinations and delicious sauces. He's been wanting to try roasting peppers, and when I mentioned I wanted to make some macaroni and cheese, he suggested we try adding roasted peppers to the tried and true recipe. Wow! I'm so glad we did! I love the old recipe, and I'm sure we'll make it plain again...but those peppers took this old mac 'n cheese to a whole new level!

Here's the recipe, adapted from an old Betty Crocker cookbook (they don't even print it anymore!)...

GF Old-Fashioned Mac 'N Cheese
3 cups gluten-free pasta
1/2 c. chopped onions (Saute these separately if you don't want a crunch in your dish.)
3 c. cheese (1 each of mozzarella, cheddar, and velveeta)
3 cups thin white sauce (see below)

White Sauce
3 T. butter
3 T. gluten-free flour
3/4 tsp. salt
3/8 tsp. pepper
3 c. milk

Melt butter in saucepan, and then stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Keep cooking over medium heat and stir constantly until it's smooth and bubbly. Gradually stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute and continue stirring. If you like your mac 'n cheese really thick, increase the butter and flour proportionally, not going above 6 tablespoons of each.

Spray non-stick spray in 2-quart casserole. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta to al dente or less (it will cook a little more in the oven). Make two layers of 1.) pasta, 2.) onions, 3.) cheese (mix all three on each layer), and 4.) sauce.

Bake for a 1/2 hour covered and then another 15 minutes uncovered (or broil for a few minutes) until the top browns. If you want to go full fat, add little pats of butter to the top to help it brown.

Now for the roasted peppers ... we used our gas grill and placed the peppers on the grates until the skins were all charred. After the peppers are charred, place them in a ziploc bag to let the skins soften. Then just peel the skins off, and underneath will be tasty, sweet, roasted peppers! We did a rough chop and added them right into the mac 'n cheese.

I highly recommend trying this recipe on the next rainy spring day. You won't be disappointed!


Anonymous said...

Hi Jenn,
I LOVE your mom's mac and cheese! Everyone will love it also! Great Blog!

Anonymous said...

Jenn, Thanks for the compliments! Love Mom

Anonymous said...

I had another memory. Do you remember how you kids used to fight over "the brown stuff" on top? Good memories! Mom